OSCAR’S PAST – WHEN THE ROAD WAS ROYAL
THREE-TIME ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS
——————————————————————————————————————–Rick’s Journal – MY FILM CAREER
This is a silly romantic comedy/melodrama which Frank Capra did not make interesting or memorable, just watchable.
All the aerial shots, which everyone loved then and everyone still loves, are always a bore to me (the cheekily edited ones in Top Gun of course excepted, along with the madly scored ones in Apocalypse Now). In his book The Name Above the Title, in which Capra proves himself capable of savaging himself, he clearly likes this film of his. And what does he write about almost entirely? — the aerial shots.
The expressive face of Lila Lee helps the film, especially in a scene with Jack Holt (SPOILER ALERT !) involving a dropped ring which she finally realizes he had meant to give her. How much she conveys without dialogue reminded me of similar silent film moments.
Jack Holt is good. Writer/actor Ralph Graves is an unimpressive performer. He is uninteresting with the kind of sappy countenance and manner popular then.
SPOILER ALERT! An example of lapse of taste and neglect of character: Death forgotten, and followed by unfunny comedy: The Graves character, after their plane crash, has just seen a member of his unit through death. Making for one of the film’s countless clichés, the dying man is of course the guy who made Graves’ life miserable throughout the movie’s running time. Survivor Graves is finally rescued by the Jack Holt character who, for the last reel, hasn’t spoken to him except to humiliate him. And Graves, the plot’s untrusted flyer, flies the rescue plane back to home base. Why? Is Holt injured?
Anyway: Graves has just been rescued from a dire predicament, just fought Nicaraguan rebels, just held the hand of a dying comrade and watched him die — and, to entertain himself, does loop-the-loops all the way back to the flying field, then flies over low several times to scare those on the field waiting for the plane to land.
This is followed by a supposedly comic vomiting scene.
Wasn’t anyone thinking? What was genius Capra thinking?
We end with the Graves character training new recruits, imitating the disrespect that Holt showed earlier. Moral, apparently satisfying and satisfied: No one learns anything.
The scenes of the Nicaraguans fighting the marines look good. Those scenes felt real. (Capra writes in his book that Nicaragua was La Mesa.)
Frank Capra’s informative, delicious autobiography is called The Name Above the Title. Macmillan, 1971.
COMING SOON to Rick’s Flicks: “Best Books About Film.”
NEXT FRIDAY POST September 14
See you at the movies,